What to do in Melbourne town.

21 09 2011

For anyone headed to Melbourne, here’s a selection of things super-cool-shit that kept me occupied around the city.

Accommodation. I stayed at littlegeorgestreet, in Fitzroy; kind of a post-modern B&B that I organised through AirBnB.

The lovely host, Ramona, worked at an organic bakery around the corner so breakfast was a treat. As was her amazing home with its collection of vintage sports equipment. Such a top find and only $60/night.

Ramona's groovy pad

Galleries and stores. So many to choose from, especially ’round Fitzroy. A few standouts were Lamington Drive in Collingwood with its awesome and awesomely cheap prints. Made me long for a house to hang them in.

panelpop goodness

Also Third Drawer Down for quirky gifts, and PanelPop, which prints photos or art onto recycled stone, framed with recycled timber. Freakin’ rad. We also went and checked out Space Invaders – street art at RMIT until Nov.

Bars n t’ings. First morning in Melbourne I focussed on getting lost among its multitude alleys until I stumbled upon Bar Americano, a tiny cafe serving the finest coffee I’ve  had since Italy.

Later that day we hit The Hardware Societe for lunch and then Thousand Pound Bend for a bunch of Doss Blockos beers. Originally, these beers were brewed at a squat in NY, and they come in a paper bag. Ghetto chic, huh? They also taste superb.

Finally to wind up our bar crawl, Anj took us to New Gold Mountain, an unassuming door in Chinatown requiring a phone call to enter and home to gold-standard cocktails.

Other junk. While visiting with my pal KJ, she decided she needed a vintage bicycle. Luckily, just around the corner in Fitzroy, we found Cameron Threthowan, a man dedicated to matching Melburnians with bikes. And boy, does he love his bikes. After enquiring about one stately cycle and pointing out in no uncertain terms I was not a customer, Cam insisted I take a spin, because “…they’re like dogs – they need a good run now and again.”  What a champ.

Also of note was the launch last week of Characters by Stephen Banham; a typographic journey through Melbourne, blending signwriting and storytelling. And regular readers of this column will know just how I feel about typography. I’m buying a copy.

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Melbourne love story

21 09 2011

First, some disclosure. I am not a ‘city’ person.

Tall buildings, traffic, throngs of people, green signals which tell me when I can cross the street; these things go against everything I love.

So I went to Melbourne not expecting much. Catch up with some friends, drink some beer, wander about with no real agenda.

I never expected to fall in love. With a city.

But here I am. Four days later. Basking in the glow of our brief affair. Ha.

city love

The best way of describing it, is that Melbourne made sense to me. Now. At this point in my life. with the interests I have and a renewed sense of what it is exactly I value, the city delivered.

The infamous Melbourne weather played the game most beautifully, each day warm, sunny and windy, so I need to keep this fact in mind while examining my infatuation.

But if I compare Perth, the equation is thus: Do I want to be bored in a sterile Mediterranean climate, or excited and inspired in (occasionally) inclement weather. No contest.

So what did I do? What was so damn fine? It wasn’t so much the activities, more the environment as a whole. It was the vibe (apologies to The Castle).

It was the crumbling heritage buildings. The ever-present street art. The shabby, graceful terrace houses with their wrought ironwork. The hidden laneway cafes. The neighbourhood small bar culture. The vegan taco stores, The recycled bicycles. The weird little vintage shops. The creativity. The eccentricity. The promise.

Melbourne made me think there really might be opportunities to follow your passions, to do something outside the square and have it succeed.

It was honestly inspiring.

loving my bike

architecture which perseveres